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Herb Reference Guide

Astragalus

History

Astragalus (huang qi) has been a foundational herb in Traditional Chinese Medicine for hundreds of years. It is included in formulas to support Wei Qi (Chi), or the conceptual "shield" which serves as a primary defense mechanism against pernicious threats to the system. It is sweet, and nourishing and often included in recipes for soups which are used for convalescence and general strengthening of the system. In Traditional Chinese Medicine it is said to tonify the "spleen" and hence is used for fatigue linked to decreased appetite. It is part of the Milk Vetch or Fabaceae family. It is traditionally used in its dried powdered form or as a strong decoction, made from boiling the dried root in water for an extended period.

Function

There is a great deal of research interest in Astragalus. The triterpenoid sapponins known as astragalosides support the integrity of mucous membranes and epithelial cells in the respiratory tract through an antioxidant mechanism. The polysaccharides are of particular interest for their immune supporting properties. It also supports deep immune function by promoting normal levels of specific immune cells and aids in their function. It appears especially effective when immune function is stressed by environmental or endogenous challenges.

Uses of Astragalus

Disclaimer

This information in our Herbal Reference Guide is intended only as a general reference for further exploration, and is not a replacement for professional health advice. This content does not provide dosage information, format recommendations, toxicity levels, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Accordingly, this information should be used only under the direct supervision of a qualified health practitioner such as a naturopathic physician.

Active Constituents

Contains a wide array of constituents including more than 40 saponins, several flavonoids including isoflavone, polysaccharides, free-form amino acids, essential fatty acids coumarins, and multiple trace minerals.

Parts Used

  • Root

Important precautions

Additional Resources

Chu DT, Wong WL, Mavligit GM. Immunotherapy with Chinese Medicinal Herbs. II. Reversal of cyclophosphamide- induced immune suppression by administration of fractionated Astragalus membranaceus in vivo. J Clin Lab Immunol. 1988 Mar; 25(3): 125-9.

Zhou QJ. Chinese medicinal herbs in the treatment of viral hepatitis. In: Cahng HM, Yeung HW, Tso WW et al (eds) Advances in Chinese Medicinal Materials Research. World Scientific, Singapore, 1985, p 216.